July 7, 2023

President Biden nominated Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson and Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak to fill Republican slots at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Tina Smith (D-MN) sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra urging him to take action to protect consumers from scams and fraud caused by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in consumer financial products. The lawmakers raised concerns over AI voice cloning technology which can allow scammers to fraudulently access consumers’ finances including their bank accounts.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce is organizing a fintech business development mission to Singapore and Tokyo, Japan, with an optional stop in Seoul, South Korea, from November 13 to 20, 2023. The business development mission will focus on expanding opportunities for U.S. companies in the Indo-Pacific region and focus on advancing U.S. technology, standards, and commercial interests. The mission is designed for U.S. firms and organizations that play a part in the financial technology industry, especially those with products in the following categories (the list is nonexhaustive): Payments (mobile payment and others); Insurance Technology; Regulatory FinTech; Lending; Cross-border Trade Finance; New Economy Finance; Sustainable Finance/Finance; Blockchain Infrastructure Solutions. To learn about the application process and fees and expenses, see the Federal Register notice for more information.

The CFPB, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) launched an inquiry into high-cost specialty financial products, such as medical credit cards and installment loans, that are pushed on patients as a way to pay for routine medical care. The three agencies seek information about the prevalence of these products, patients’ experiences with them, and health care providers’ incentives to offer these high-cost products to patients, which may include avoiding the insurance claims process and financial assistance programs. In addition, on July 11, at 10:00 am ET, the CFPB will host a hearing on medical billing and collections, featuring leadership from the White House, HHS, and Treasury. 

The CFPB requested the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) approval of a new information collection titled “Generic Information Collection Plan for Foundational Research About Consumer Credit Markets and Household Financial Decision-Making.”

The Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) NDAA is likely to be considered on the House Floor when Congress returns from the Fourth of July recess. In June, the House Armed Services Committee favorably reported the bill on a strong bipartisan vote of 58 to 1. The Committee Report on the bill can be found here. A full list of amendments that have been submitted for consideration by the House Rules Committee can be found here. The deadline for on-time submission of amendments was Friday, June 30, at 4:00PM.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released the 2022 Annual MDI Report to Congress. The report found that minority depository institution credit unions experienced growth in membership, assets, and loans in 2022, expanding access to financial services for their members and communities.

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) released the Community Bank Sentiment Index (CSBI). CSBS stated that concerns about regulatory burden, monetary policy, future business conditions, and future profitability dropped the CBSI to 73, falling 10 points from the previous quarter and to the lowest recorded level since the survey began in 2019. 

Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen delivered remarks on centering equity in economic policy at the Essence Festival’s Global Black Economic Forum. Secretary Yellen discussed steps the Treasury is taking to build a fairer economy.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued and settled charges against Randy Craig Levine and Philip Reichenthal for engaging in a fraudulent investment scheme after making false representations to investors and collecting over $5 million. The CFTC imposed restitution for the fraud victims and permanent trading and registration bans against Levine and Reichenthal. Commissioner Kristin Johnson issued a statement supporting the enforcement action.

CFTC Commissioner Caroline D. Pham, sponsor of the Global Markets Advisory Committee (GMAC), announced new members and leadership of the GMAC and its Subcommittees on Global Market Structure, Technical Issues, and Digital Asset Markets. In total, there are 128 members across the GMAC and its Subcommittees, constituting the largest-ever single advisory committee initiative sponsored by the CFTC.

The CFPB announced that they will distribute more than $3.5 million to consumers who were charged illegal fees to reduce or eliminate their federal student loans. In July 2020, the CFPB settled with Timemark, Inc. for violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule. From 2016 through October 2019, the company used telemarketing campaigns to convince people with federal student loans to pay up to $699 in fees to file paperwork to reduce or eliminate their monthly payments, through loan consolidation, forgiveness, or income-driven repayment plans. The U.S. Department of Education, however, offers these options to student loan borrowers for free. 

Vice President Kamala Harris and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman met with Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) in Santa Monica to highlight the Administration’s efforts to strengthen and improve the Community Advantage Program, a pilot program dedicated to providing capital for low-income borrowers and those from underserved communities.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the SWIFT international payments system and more than a dozen private sector partners published a report finding that blockchain technology could be used to develop a near-instant 24-hour global payment system using U.S. dollars.

The American Fintech Council (AFC), the premier industry association representing responsible fintech companies that deliver critical access to safe and affordable financial services, has announced a new strategic alliance with FS Vector. FS Vector will partner with AFC to promote responsible innovation in financial services, advocate for important regulatory modernization and curate unique educational and training opportunities for the broader fintech ecosystem.

The Federal Reserve announced that 57 early adopter organizations, including financial institutions and service providers, have completed formal testing and certification in advance of the FedNow Service’s launch planned for late July. The early adopters include 41 financial institutions participating as senders, receivers and/or correspondents supporting settlement, 15 service providers processing on behalf of participants, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Need to catch up on what happened last week? Check out our June 30th newsletter here.